NEW YORK – The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania's Housing Initiative at Penn, today released a white paper on the nation's looming eviction crisis, highlighting city and state programs that are keeping families in their homes. The paper, written as part of the New York Fed's community development efforts, also spotlights initiatives to collect reliable data on renters and landlords, as comprehensive data on both is limited.
The paper, "Current Responses to Housing Insecurity: A Focus on Vulnerable Residential Renters and Landlords," highlights research showing that renters paying rent on time to avoid eviction proceedings may be making grave sacrifices to do so. For example, 55% of the renters in California have gone without food to pay rent, according to a study by the Housing Initiative at Penn cited in the paper. The same study found tenants in California accrued an average of $3,050 in debt to pay rent as of June 25, 2021, including payday loans, credit card debt, and money borrowed from friends and family. Such debt is not reimbursable through rent relief programs.
The paper also highlights some important lessons raised in a series of convenings on this topic:
- Policy adjustments and course correction are important for rent relief program performance: The statewide program in California initially faced challenges administering its funds but it then simplified applications for assistance and increased benefits, which bolstered program performance. As of August 31, 2021, the State had paid out $425 million, or over one-third of the state's federal rent relief funds, to landlords and tenants, and the speed at which funds are being processed has increased over time.
- States and cities can advance tenant protections: While the State of New York has had well-documented difficulty administering its rent relief funds, it passed an eviction moratorium for COVID-related residential and commercial evictions until January 15, 2022. Such protections are important, but it just as critical that the state now ensure tenants and owners can access much- needed rent relief and financial resources.
- Connecting tenant protections with financial resources is one tool to avert evictions: Philadelphia used rental assistance funds to work in partnership with local court systems to help renters facing evictions. As of July 2021, 91.2% of households that completed Philadelphia's mediation program avoided an eviction proceeding.
- New data collection collaborations are important: The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta partnered with researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, the Atlanta Regional Commission, and the Georgia Institute of Technology to build the Atlanta Regional Eviction Tracker, a critical tool for tracking eviction, and developing responses, over time.
Housing experts warn of significant ongoing risk of evictions following the July expiration of a federal eviction moratorium and the subsequent Supreme Court ruling effectively closing the door on an extension of that moratorium. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia projects that over 6 million households will owe over $16 billion in rent by October 2021.
The paper follows two virtual listening sessions, hosted by the New York Fed, on the crisis facing landlords and tenants. The meetings, held with the objective of bringing together promising eviction prevention strategies from the many conversations on the issue, consisted of a small group of landlords and tenant leaders, relevant financial institutions, lawyers, regulators, academics, and the Partnership for New York City.